# NumerICs vs numerALs, what is the difference if any?

I looked up MW but failed to see whether they are interchangeable.

On a daily basis I find difficulties in adjective forming, so I guess this is just one more of the -IC versus -AL dilemmas, no?

• For most purposes you should recognise "numeric" as an adjective (i.e. - "The digit 3 is a numeric character"). Whereas "numeral" is a noun in itself (i.e. - "The digit 3 is a numeral"). Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 16:35
• Thanks, so it is boiled down to usage habits, because MW defines them both both as adjectives and nouns. To add to the confusion MW defines numerICAL as well but this time as adjective only. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 16:41
• Some estimated usage figures from Google Books: a numeral expression:1300, a numeric expression:23000, a numerical expression:126000. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:01
• Very good, didn't look until now, it appears you are quite right numberwise/ratiowise, with 1:10:100 ratio it is no wonder why noun takes over. Also, "numerals" yielded 2,490,000 while "numerics" 76,100. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:12
• Yes - checking prevalence (using Google Books or Internet search) for word+s can be a good way of checking how often word is used as a noun. But you need to watch out for cases where word might also be used as a verb, so it's generally better to search for some unambiguous text string in Google Books. (Besides which, they're written instances, so there won't be too many erroneous texts written by incompetent/non-native speakers.) Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:46

Numeral (noun) is the shape that draw on the paper to represent a number.

Numeric (adj) lets us know that some noun represents some number.

In use:

0 and O look almost identical in many fonts. But they are not the same. The letter form O has an orthographic (spelling) value, but no numeric value, although it can be used to spell many great words like book and hog.

Contrast that with the numeral 0. You can't spell anything with it, but it does have a numeric value, approximately halfway between -1 and 1.

In some fonts, you can tell the two apart: `0 is the numeral, O is the letter form with no numeric value.`

In Rome, on the other hand, the letter form V also served as a numeral, so you could either use it to spell things, or to represent numeric values.

...and one more take on this, from the comments:

• Forty-seven is a number, expressed without the use of numerals. 47 is the same number, expressed using numerals.

• Boobs is a word referring to mammalian anatomy. `80085` is the punchline to a adolescent calculator joke that uses numerals to suggest the word "boobs." The numeric value of 80085 is not important to the joke.

• Thanks, very good. Can we replace 'numeric values' with just 'numericS', I wonder why the noun usage is kinda avoided, here one example: Restricting our attention to such programming languages in general, it is observed that the lack of computational efficiency has proved to be the most important argument against object-oriented numerics. This aspect has indeed prevented serious use of OOP for numerical work until advent of C++. /Numerical Methods and Software Tools in Industrial Mathematics/ Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:36
• I think I have seen numeric used as a noun meaning "something which has the same value as some number" in programming. (e.g. I declare my string variables in upper case. Then when I see ONE, I instantly know it is not a numeric.) I am not a programmer, though, so I can't speak broadly about how the words are used in that field. As a physical scientist/engineer in the U.S., I see numeric used as an adjective, interchangeably with numerical. We use numeral only to refer to the character.
Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:47
• Maybe the noun use of numeric is less common because in most contexts, people don't need a word for "something which represents a number, but isn't necessarily one." ?